Regulatory guidance – Building confidence in the handling and use of data

16 October 2018
Last updated:
11 April 2022

Achieving a safe and effective data linkage system

Statistics producers should:


  • Seek public input to major decisions about statistics & statistical research
  • Use clear, consistent & meaningful language
  • Be advocates for safe data use
  • Produce keeping data safe statements using the Five Safes Framework

Government demonstrates its trustworthiness to share and link data through robust data safeguarding and clear public communication


  • Maximise opportunities to identify the questions that society wants answered
  • Ensure policy maker and external input to question setting process
  • Enable more exploratory analysis, including the use of synthetic data

Data sharing and linkage help to answer society’s important questions


  • Harmonise information governance frameworks
  • Increase seniority of sign-off
  • Develop risk assessment tools
  • Be open and transparent about data shares

Data sharing decisions are ethical, timely, proportionate and transparent


  • Design & monitor application processes with users
  • Signpost users to other data sources of potential interest

Project proposal assessments are robust, efficient and transparent


  • Improve data documentation
  • Contribute to an admin data registry
  • Use a common framework for documenting and assessing linkage process
  • Ensure that statisticians are involved when new data systems are designed
  • Ensure data users can provide feedback about data quality to data collectors, to help improve data at source

Data are documented adequately, quality assessed and continuously improved


  • Recognise and address resource needs
  • Work collectively to address infrastructure requirements
  • Adopt creative solutions to reduce data outsourcing costs
  • Use effective mechanisms to bring in external expertise
  • Support the professional development of data access support staff
  • Innovate and share practice around safe settings (especially virtual platforms)

Analysts have the skills and resources needed to carry out high-quality data linkage and analysis

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